The government continued modest efforts to protect victims. The government reportedly identified 117 victims, compared to 35 identified in the previous reporting period, and referred at least 41 to care. An NGO identified and assisted 415 victims; however, due to a lack of coordinated data collection at the national level, these numbers may be inexact. The government reported housing 35 child trafficking victims in a children’s shelter and repatriating 70 transnational trafficking victims, six of whom received additional care; this compared to 35 sheltered and 60 repatriated in the previous year. The Government of Seychelles reported intercepting 16 potential female trafficking victims from Madagascar en route to Kuwait and coordinated with Malagasy authorities to repatriate them to Madagascar. The police reported identifying 56 victims, to whom they provided temporary shelter in police stations, given the lack of alternative options for adequate accommodation. The government also reported identifying 20 child trafficking victims from a list of 777 complaints lodged during the reporting period.
The government remained without formal procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims or refer victims for care. While the government offered some protection services, it is unclear how many victims received these benefits. The Ministry of Population and Social Affairs, in collaboration with an international organization, continued to coordinate approximately 780 child protection networks across the country, a significant increase from 450 in the prior reporting period. These networks are mandated to protect children from various forms of abuse and exploitation, as well as to ensure access to medical and psychological services for victims. However, the networks’ protective services were at times inadequate, the standard of care was inconsistent across regions, and the government did not report whether any of the networks provided services to trafficking victims during the reporting year. A government hospital offered assistance to child victims of various abuses, including sex trafficking, in Antananarivo and another in Toamasina that opened in 2016. The government continued to operate and fund the Manjary Soa Center in Antananarivo, which received 35 children who had been removed from situations of forced labor and sex trafficking. This center provided vocational training or reintegration into the public school system. The city of Antananarivo continued to manage an emergency center for child victims of domestic servitude, generally referred by the Morals and Protection of Minors Police Service (PMPM). Expenses, including food, lodging, psychological and medical aid, and educational services, and the salaries of personnel were funded by the city, in partnership with an international organization.
The Ministry of Population offers transnational trafficking victims psychological support through a social worker employed by the ministry, and financial and socio-economic support for re-integration in partnership with an international organization, as well as medical care and legal assistance. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated, but did not fund, the repatriation of 70 transnational victims from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, China, Comoros, and Thailand. The Ministry of Population provided six of the transnational victims with psychological and medical care, with one victim referred to a vocational training center and the other five receiving financial support, it is unclear if the remainder of repatriated victims received assistance. Such efforts represent an increase from 60 victims repatriated in the previous reporting period. In addition, the Honorary Malagasy Consul in Lebanon reportedly inflated the cost of passport renewal for Malagasy workers who had completed their work contracts or were detained in prisons for being undocumented after passport confiscation by their employers and took no action to facilitate their release and return to Madagascar. While the government initiated diplomatic discussions with Kuwait for the purpose of assisting transnational trafficking victims in domestic servitude, such efforts had limited effect in facilitating the protection of and legal remedies for exploited Malagasy workers in Kuwait and other destination countries. An NGO reported that trafficking victims continued to return from the Middle East, where they had been subjected to various forms of abuse while working in domestic service. Upon repatriation, the vast majority of Malagasy trafficking victims arrived destitute and in need of psychological and medical services. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs systematically informs the Ministry of Population of the repatriated victims, who will contact the victims upon return and refer them to NGOs for assistance, but reports indicate most victims are reluctant to accept assistance.
The 2014 anti-trafficking law provides foreign trafficking victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. There were no reports the government arrested or punished trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; however, without formal procedures to identify trafficking victims, it is likely. As a legal matter, trafficking trials may be held in private for the sake of the victim’s confidentiality and privacy; however, the government did not report doing so in the reporting period and most cases were not prosecuted under the trafficking laws. Further, while the 2014 anti-trafficking law provides that victims are entitled to restitution for the third consecutive year this provision was not implemented.